I’m not ashamed to admit it – I love walking. Now it might not be the coolest thing in the world but bear with me a minute.
Up until a few years ago walking was one of two things for me. A necessity or a bore. The thought of going for a long walk around the countryside was not at the top of my to do list and I would much rather be beasting it out at the gym, or having an afternoon drinking session with my friends. Fast forward three years though and what’s changed?
Well, first and foremost, I have a dog and if I don’t walk – he doesn’t walk. Secondly, I’ve changed. To me fitness isn’t just about getting in a great workout at the gym, it’s about creating a holistic, healthy lifestyle that’s manageable and maintainable – and walking is a huge part of that. I simply love lacing up my walking boots, driving out to a beautiful part of country and getting out in the open air.
But other than the beautiful scenery and taking a dog for a walk, why would you want to just walk when you could be taking a yoga or hiit class? I’ve listed my top 6 reasons below.
Anyone can do it If you can walk, you can walk. Whether you’re 17 or 70; be it a short stroll round the park or a ten mile hike through the countryside. Simply pick what’s right for you and go do it. And if you’re simply heading to the park near your house, you don’t even need any special gear for it – so no excuses, right?
Boost Vitamin D I’m sure we all know of the importance of vitamin D. It’s essential for regulating the amount of calcium and phosphate in your body which are needed to keep bones and muscles healthy. And for around six months of the year (UK) we can get our recommended daily dose of vitamin D from the sun making it essential that we get outdoors whenever we can. Studies have also shown that individuals with low levels of Vitamin D are more likely to get depression, which brings me to my next point…
Good for the mind It’s a huge topic of conversation right now and it’s been shown that exercise can help to reduce feelings of depression, as it releases feel good chemicals in the brain. And it doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise, a stroll in the park is great for mental wellbeing. It helps me when my anxiety is at it’s worst or when I’m feeling down for no reason as it gives me an opportunity to reconnect with the world around and refocus my mind.
Helps you lose weight Walking can be a great aid to your weight loss plan and is easily worked into your daily routine. A brisk twenty minute walk at lunch time coupled with a ten minute walk to the car park could burn up to 200 calories. But bear in mind the faster your walk, the more calories you’ll burn so a saunter to the corner shop won’t cut it (although it beats sitting on your arse!).
Great for your heart The heart is a muscle and like any other muscle it needs activity to keep it fit and healthy. Walking is an easy way to do this and can help to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. In fact the Stroke Association says that taking a brisk 30-minute walk every day helps to prevent and control the high blood pressure that causes strokes, reducing the risk by up to 27 percent.
Makes your more sociable We’ve (mainly my husband) encouraged our friends to do more walking and often head out together for a ramble, a chat and a pint at the end. Even walking around your neighbourhood can make your more sociable as you’re more likely to bump into neighbours and other people out for a casual stroll or a dog walk.
If you want to find out more about how walking can improve your mental and physical health, I’ve found a great page which is worth a read – here.
And as May is National Walking Month there’s no better time to take it up. So lace up, get outside and put one foot in front of the other – it’s what we were made to do.